49 Burning Condors – Seventh Hymnal

I love when an album hits me just right, especially when I’ve been looking forward to it eagerly.  The new full-length debut album from 49 Burning Condors has arrived, and it is every bit as good as I had hoped.  The album is called Seventh Hymnal and it released on September 9th.

49 Burning Condors hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which might surprise you after you hear their music.  The band has been leveling up their production and promotion abilities, and so I hope you’ve heard of them elsewhere, too.  The band includes Kimber Dulin on vocals, Christopher Tremoglie on guitar and piano, Andriana Markano on violin, Zach Rinck on bass, and Kat Wilson on drums.

When I reviewed the band’s 2020 EP Truths and Roses, I used several adjectives to describe their music.  I used words like bluesy, swampy, indie, gothic, groovy, folk, and alternative, and all those words still apply.  The band plays a sweaty, dehydrated style of American folk music that some call Southern Gothic or witch rock.  It is heavily influenced by the deep, deep South, as in New Orleans and all the storytelling, legends, folktales, and dark fables that have come from that wonderful area of the country, but I think this sound could apply to many old cities, many pernicious ghosts, and many ominous myths.

Seventh Hymnal is rich with personality.  At times, it can feel humid and perspired in its delicious grooves.  Other times, it can feel like a delicate, exquisite rose that celebrates its own little quirks and imperfections.  There is a glowering darkness that hovers aloft in its atmosphere, but also a grounded, thumping beauty that refuses to lose itself. You will notice a certain lust for storytelling which explores characters of organic divinity much of the time. And so you will experience all sorts of emotions, from macabre to sorrowful to hopeful to confident, and you will want to listen to it again right away after it ends.

The band achieves this with voluptuous bass lines, slithering violin, gorgeous keys, and flowing guitar rhythms.  The drums are one of the most important aspects of their sound simply due to the array of beats and themes that they communicate.  Kimber’s vocals are perhaps that greatest piece of their personality, though, as she emotes with off-kilter tonal changes and a unique timbre that achieves everything it wishes.  The band simply feels like they’ve achieved unity in how they write and play.

The album has seven songs and lasts about 30 minutes.  I would recommend adding their EP to the mix if you want it to be a little longer.  I love all seven songs, but I will say that the album really reaches new heights with the fourth song onwards.  I do want to mention the opener, “Bayou”, which has a deep darkness in its steamy groove that is absolutely addictive.  I feel like “Little Death” and “Willow Tree” follow suit somewhat, though in an expanded sounded.  “Little Death” has such a hefty, lurching sound that I love, and “Willow Tree” has a searing, nostalgic rhythm at its heart.  Both are fantastic.

One of my favorites is “Red Drum Skin”, full of rollicking beats and colorful lyrics.  I dearly love this song and its witchy rock vibe.  “Noonday” is a slow-burning and dark song that features the evocative music video and haunting lyrics.  It has a deep effect.  I think my favorite chorus on the album is on “Chapel Hill”, about a murder thereon.  It has a stark, folksy feeling to it that is simply beautiful.  Finally, the title track closes the album.  “Seventh Hymnal” sounds a little different from the rest; it is far more hopeful and serene.  It is something like a ballad with elegant violin and an air of certainty, but that balladic atmosphere soon changes into a richly flowing river of instrumentation and harmony that closes the album perfectly.

49 Burning Condors aren’t my typical musical taste, though my tastes have been expanding the last couple years.  I find something irresistible in their sweltering sound and haunted lyrics, something familiar and yet also like something newly revealed.  They are both mysterious and comfortable at the same time, and their music carries echoes of a thousand ages, a million stories, and countless souls.  Storied and somehow relentlessly new, I really can’t wait for this band to garner the acclaim they deserve.


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